|Indecent in Illinois - The Price of Pork, (Chicago Tribune)|
Four bills have been introduced that offer citizens, communities, tourism interests, and small farmers a measure of standing to halt and regulate a health and environmental tragedy unfolding in Illinois.
Write David Jackson and Gary Marx in the Chicago Tribune this week:
As pork producers exploit weak laws to build and expand large hog confinements across rural Illinois, neighboring farmers have complained their rights are being trampled while waste spills poison local streams and sickening gases ruin families' lives and property values.The political fight is bear-bones, and the viability of large swaths of rural Illinois, safe groundwater and surface water lies in the offing as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from pig feces "mixed with airborne animal dander and fecal dust" destroy, degrade and drive away whatever is encountered by this toxic plume.
But after years of frustration and legislative inaction, lawmakers on Tuesday announced four new bills that would tighten Illinois' lax environmental protections and give local citizens more input in the permitting process, as well as standing to challenge the massive facilities in court.
The Illinois interests who have brought this tragedy to the fore are property owners watching valuations plummet, advocacy groups such as Illinois Environmental Council, small farmers, rural communities and old-fashioned, investigative journalism.
David Jackson, Gary Marx and a group at the Chicago Tribune published an investigative series entitled the "The Price of Pork" in 2016-17. Notes a copy-editor in the Tribune piece this week:
The bills, proposed in response to the Tribune's August investigation, 'The Price of Pork,' would represent the first significant reforms to Illinois' 1996 Livestock Management Facilities Act, which has been criticized for failing to keep pace with the dramatic growth of swine confinements. Holding thousands of pigs and sometimes producing millions of gallons of manure annually, the operations now account for more than 90 percent of Illinois' $1.5 billion in annual hog sales.
'What is going on in our rural communities and to many of our farmers and farm families is wrong and unjust and we can do better than this for them,' Fulton County farmer Craig Porter said Tuesday at a Springfield news conference held by Democratic state Sen. David Koehler of Peoria, a sponsor of two of the bills.
Factory farm interests are predatory and sociopathic and work in states across the country.
Entire communities in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are watching Illinois to see how the state defends itself.
Taping the cruelty and pollution that occurs in factory farms is being targeted by corporate interests who have been working since 2012 to make dissemination of factory farming in operation a crime, (Mother Jones), (NYT).